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Colossal centres: Dominant duo Mal, GI voted Simply The Best

Two of the modern-era masters have been crowned Simply The Best centres of the past 30 years - Mal Meninga and Greg Inglis.

Despite only playing the first five years of the era which began when Tina Turner's iconic rugby league advertising campaign launched in 1990, Meninga was voted in by the fans in the top spot with Inglis not far behind.

More than 105,000 votes were cast via this article as well as head-to-head polls on the official NRL Instagram and Facebook accounts.

They won out over Broncos legend Steve Renouf and Sharks great Andrew Ettingshausen for the two spots after the initial shortlist of 10 was trimmed to the final four candidates. Ettingshausen beat out Jamie Lyon by only one vote to take fourth spot in the poll. recently launched the search for the Simply The Best players from 1990 to now and calling on the fans to have their say.

Billy Slater kicked off proceedings by winning the fullback poll in a landslide. The race to select the wingers was a beauty with Wendell Sailor and Hazem El Masri nudging out Brett Morris and Manu Vatuvei.

The newsroom initially narrowed the race to be the best centre down to a shortlist of 10.

And that was no easy feat - with so many great players in the running, there was no room for an array of internationals, including modern-day trio Michael Jennings, Latrell Mitchell and Will Chambers, Dragons premiership winner Matt Cooper, 1990s era guns Paul McGregor, Terry Hill, Mark Coyne, Jarrod McCracken and Chris Johns, or the versatile Shaun Timmins.

Simply The Best centre nominees

(in alphabetical order)

91. Andrew Ettingshausen - Hall of Fame

Andrew Ettingshausen

A Hall of Famer who played 18 straight seasons with his beloved Sharks, "ET" scored 159 tries, a club record that stands to this day. Blessed with blistering pace, he also developed into one of the game's best defensive centres and was a fixture in NSW and Australian representative teams throughout the 1990s.

Great Grand Final Moments: 2010 Mark Gasnier Try

Mark Gasnier

The nephew of an Immortal, he made a name for himself at St George Illawarra over a decade of excellence which included 92 tries, 15 Tests for Australia and 12 Origins for NSW. Gasnier returned to the club after a brief stint in French rugby in 2010 to help the club record its first premiership as a joint venture.

Matt Gidley causes havoc for Parramatta in the 2001 grand final.
Matt Gidley causes havoc for Parramatta in the 2001 grand final. ©NRL Photos

Matt Gidley

Gidley emerged with Newcastle in the mid 1990s and after missing out on the 1997 grand final win he was one of the stars of the 2001 triumph. A classy passer, known for his trademark flick pass to set up his winger, he graced the representative arena in 17 Tests for Australia and 11 Origins for NSW while tallying 228 NRL appearances for his beloved Knights.

Ryan Girdler starred for NSW in the 2000 series with a record 52 points.
Ryan Girdler starred for NSW in the 2000 series with a record 52 points. ©NRL Photos

Ryan Girdler

The goal-kicking speedster started with two seasons at Illawarra before switching to Penrith where he spent 12 years including the 2003 premiership-winning campaign to finish with 1690 points from 227 career first-grade games. Girdler excelled in the representative arena with 14 Tests and 10 Origins for NSW, including his record-setting 32-point haul in the third match of the 2000 series.

Justin Hodges became a Queensland Maroons legend after an inauspicious start to his career.
Justin Hodges became a Queensland Maroons legend after an inauspicious start to his career. ©NRL Photos

Justin Hodges

One of the fiercest competitors of the modern era, he kicked off his career with two seasons at the Broncos before a controversial switch to the Roosters which resulted in a premiership in his first year at the club, 2002. He returned to Brisbane in 2005 and remained at the club until his retirement a decade later after the grand final loss to North Queensland with 251 NRL appearances, 13 Tests for Australia and 27 Origins for Queensland on his resume.

The best of Greg Inglis' glittering career

Greg Inglis

A teenage prodigy, he burst onto the scene with Melbourne in 2005 and was a key member of the Storm teams which were a fixture in the finals over the remaining half of the decade. He switched to Souths in 2011 and was an integral member of the title-winning side three years later. "GI" retired in 2019 after an illustrious career including 263 games, 39 Tests and 32 appearances for the Maroons.

Lyon magic produces try for Robertson

Jamie Lyon

One of the most enigmatic characters of the modern era, Lyon played for Australia eight times and NSW on 10 occasions before retiring from the representative arena in the prime of his career. He kicked off his career with 70 matches at Parramatta before walking away from the club early in 2004. After a detour in the English Super League, he returned to the NRL with Manly and was at the forefront of their 2008 and 2011 grand final-winning sides.

13th Immortal - Mal Meninga

Mal Meninga

A bona fide Immortal, Meninga was in the twilight of his career when the Simply The Best era began in 1990 but still racked up plenty of achievements in the next few years. He led Canberra to the title that year and did so again in 1994 while also dominating Origin with Queensland in the early 1990s and saying farewell to rugby league with a record fourth consecutive successful Kangaroo Tour.

GF glory: Renouf races the length of the field

Steve Renouf

"The Pearl" began his career as the Broncos were coming into the big league in 1988 and established himself as an attacking weapon at club level before rising into the Queensland and Australian sides. Renouf was a vital part of the Brisbane sides that won four premierships in the 1990s before finishing his career with two seasons at Wigan.

Nigel Vagana found success with many teams.
Nigel Vagana found success with many teams. ©NRL Photos

Nigel Vagana

A prolific try-scorer, he made his NRL debut with four seasons at the Warriors but found success after a switch to Canterbury in 2000 where he scored 61 tries in a four-year stint. The Kiwi international also played for Cronulla and Souths before retiring in 2008 with 140 tries in 240 matches as well as another 21 in 40 Tests with New Zealand and Samoa.


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.

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